Once again, leaders from America’s largest carriers are taking their problems with Qatar Airways to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. President Donald Trump met with the chief executives of several carriers on Thursday, July 18, 2019, over their concerns with foreign airline investments.
The chief executives of the world’s largest airlines spent Thursday, July 18, 2019 at The White House, once again discussing airline investments and their legalities. Reuters reports President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence met with the top leaders of several airlines, to discuss the state of international aviation today.
In attendance at the meeting were the leaders of American Airlines, cargo carriers Atlas Air and FedEx, JetBlue and United Airlines. The outspoken leader of Qatar Airways, Akbar Al-Baker, was also present, marking one of the few direct meetings between the executive and his American counterparts.
The rivalry between the “American Three” and the “Middle East Three” dates back to 2015, when the American carriers alleged their Middle Eastern counterparts accepted billions of dollars in illegal subsidies disguised as state-ownership investments. In 2018, the United States made agreements with the governments of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates as a result of the open skies debate, promising more transparency in accounting practices.
One of the topics reportedly on the agenda was Qatar Airways’ 49% purchase of Air Italy. Cabinet-level members have expressed concern over Qatar’s investment and the addition of new flights between the United States and Milan.
Although White House officials did not provide details on the meeting, The Partnership for Fair and Open Skies is declaring a victory for the American carriers. In a press release, partnership managing partner Scott Reed thanked the president for his time, and added: “We had a productive meeting with President Trump today to talk about the importance of American jobs and not letting foreign governments break their agreements with the United States.”
On the opposite side, U.S. Airlines for Open Skies presented opposition to the Fair and Open Skies Act of 2019, introduced by the U.S. House of Representatives’ aviation committee. “This unnecessary bill only invites retaliation by our international Open Skies partners, with the flying public shouldering the greatest consequences,” the group said in a press release. “We strongly oppose this legislation and urge Members of the House and Senate to do the same.”
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